Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan, Jonatan Christie win New Zealand Open

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Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan are the most stable Indonesian men's doubles pair so far in 2019.
Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan are the most stable Indonesian men's doubles pair so far in 2019.

Auckland: The reigning All England men’s doubles champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia exacted revenge on behalf of their teammates, World No. 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, when Ahsan/Setiawan rallied back from a set down to beat the Japanese pair Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe 20-22, 21-15, 21-17 in the New Zealand Open final on Sunday.

In last Sunday’s Badminton Asia Championships final, Gideon/Sukamuljo suffered a humiliating 18-21, 3-21 defeat in the hands of Endo/Watanabe in just 35 minutes.

As usual, both pairs were engaged in quick exchanges, fantastic net play, powerful smashes and great defense at the Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland on Sunday.

Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan started the first game quite well with a quick 3-0 lead before Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe drew level at 4-4. After the interval, Ahsan/Setiawan once again were leading at 15-12 but Endo/Watanabe caught up again with 15-15 before winning the first game 22-20.

After the interval of the second game, Ahsan/Setiawan were unstoppable as they led at 17-12 and clinched the second game with a 21-15 victory.

When trailing with 8-12 deficit in the decider, Ahsan/Setiawan utilized their experience to disrupt the rhythm of their opponents, reeling off 7 consecutive points to lead at 15-12. And, of course, the Indonesians eventually claimed the third-set 21-17.

“I thank God, and also thanks to the crowd who provided us with tremendous support. This tournament is very meaningful to us because it’s the start of the Olympics qualification,” said Ahsan after the match.

In the men’s competition, last year’s New Zealand runner-up, Jonatan Christie, didn’t let that opportunity slip through his fingers again by beating Hong Kong’s sixth seed Ng Ka Long Angus 21-12, 21-13 in the final.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s dynamic 17-year-old Se Young-An completed an outstanding achievement by upsetting China’s 2012 Olympic Champion Li Xuerui 21-19, 21-15 in the final.

Korea also enjoyed a delightful ending in women’s doubles when Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong picked up their first win over Rio Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi in their fourth encounter, outlasting the No. 2 seeds from Japan 21-15, 21-18 in 49 minutes.

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